The Obama Administration is making a futile push this week to confirm Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, even though 44 Republican Senators have asserted they will not confirm anyone to that position unless the agency gets a radical transformation to reduce its effectiveness. In a weekend conference call, White House officials vowed to push Republican Senators to confirm Cordray, the former Attorney General of Ohio who will get a confirmation vote this week.
Cordray, a well-regarded former Democratic Ohio attorney general and five-time Jeopardy! champion, is likely to be voted down Thursday by a filibuster-proof bloc of GOP senators who don’t want anyone at the helm of the watchdog until the agency’s powers are restricted.
That stance, Obama advisers believe, puts GOP senators at risk from constituents who want to see the agency crack down on the financial services industry, especially payday lenders [...]
The administration is planning to turn up the heat on senators, by making officials — and Obama himself — available to print and broadcast journalists in deep-red Alaska, Indiana, Tennessee and Utah, along with bluer Iowa, Maine, and Nevada.
The effort culminates with a round-robin Obama interview with local TV anchors from major markets in all those states.
“The White House and the president himself will be devote a special effort to citizens in seven states,” added Earnest, who said Obama would ramp up his efforts even more in those states “if the senator who was elected to represent them in Washington, D.C., sides with the financial industry and votes to block his nomination.”
Massachusetts, home of Scott Brown, is not on that list because he has already announced support for Cordray. This list seeks to turn a number of other GOP senators. If you’re wondering why Utah is on the list, that’s because the state’s Republican Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff (who’s actually OK on foreclosure fraud, that being my only frame of reference for him), vowed to lobby his home-state senators on the Cordray nomination. If you think someone like Mike Lee will break down and enthusiastically support the nomination as a result, I should try to sell you a deep-ocean fishing vessel for all your future trips to Utah.
I suppose this will draw some contrast with the GOP on the issue of consumer protection, which is nominally popular among the public. The idea that Republicans are keeping the federal government from regulating payday lenders certainly sounds like something you’d want to tag on them. But it will get us no closer to a confirmed director of CFPB.
I assume the White House knows this, and that this is largely for show. We will know soon, because if they really wanted Cordray in as director, they would simply give him a recess appointment after the vote fails.